Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Up With Hope

I am proud to say that in the three days I have been looking, I have found 6 CBO's that are seeking interns and are truly making an impact in their community. All of the sites are going to be considered for the interns next year, but one made a lasting impression on me. It is also the site at which I am going to work at for the remainder of my summer.

The organization is called Raising Up Hope for Uganda (RUHU), and it was founded by a young man named Patrick. Patrick was orphaned as a child, and for years survived on the streets of Kampala with his sister and others like him. As a teen he met an American woman, who was inspired by his story and leased an apartment in Kampala for Patrick and his sister. When he was about sixteen he came across an infant tied up in a sack left to die in a pile of garbage. He felt that this child deserved a chance to live no matter the personal sacrifice on his part. He legally adopted the little girl, thus beginning RUHU. By the time he was 17 years old there were 10 street children living in his apartment. In order to get more children into a safe home Patrick made a huge sacrifice- he turned down the chance at attending university in the US. He asked his sponsor to take the money she would spend on his plane ticket and fees and write a check. He took this money and bought a house on the outskirts of Kampala to house all of his children. In Bulenga, the town in which the orphanage is located, he is affectionately known by all of the villagers as "Uncle Patrick". To even an outsider it is apparent that he is revered in his community for the difference he has made.

RUHU functions primarily as an orphanage, but there are many other ways in which the organization contributes to the community. Next week I am going to experience this firsthand, but from what I am told the founding members go out into the Kampala slums to bring new orpans and at risk children to stay at RUHU. They also go out to a region of Uganda that has a very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and they assist in families who are taking care of orphans. Finally, the orphanage serves as a home schooling site for the children living there. The organization does not have the funding to send the 40 children to school, so two young men are teaching six classes a day. Did I mention that all of the people leading RUHU are all 19 and 20 years old? RUHU is desparate for help, but they are doing some awe-inspiring work. In addition to housing around 40 orphans and vulnerable children, Patrick works with relatives of the children to find them a long term home. Through counseling and persistence, eventually many of the orphans are taken into the homes of Aunts, Uncle, and Grandparents. By finding a permanent home for the children, space is opened up for others in need.

Finding organizations like RUHU makes me wish I had more time in this country to get to know the wonderful people that are making a difference, and assist them in their endeavours. If you get the chance please take a look at their website: http://raisinguphope.wetpaint.com/

As the Ugandans say, "Nice Time!!"

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I am the American woman and Patrick's sponsor and that is not quite the way it happened. He did not turn down a chance to go to America, the Embassy turned him down. Patrick is an amazing young man but there were several other people involved in starting this orphanage. Credit is due.